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Robotics and Autonomous Systems

FARSCOPE aims to train the next generation of innovators in the growing field of robotics and autonomous systems (RAS), identified as one of the UK's 'eight great technologies' for future growth. Our four-year programme leads to the award of a joint PhD degree from both the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England. A PhD is a uniquely challenging and rewarding endeavour, especially in a cutting-edge field like RAS.

We have enhanced the standard individual PhD in various ways to give you the best possible start on your RAS research and innovation career:

+ Specialist taught modules in a wide variety of RAS technologies to equip you for research;

+ Exposure to a diverse range of industry and academic RAS topics to give you a broad view of the potential and context of RAS;

+ Cohort-based skills training including enterprise, public engagement, communication and research methods;

+ Group projects and industry study workshops to foster creativity, practical skills and integration.

You'll have your choice of specialist topics from more than 50 academic supervisors. The centre is based at the Bristol Robotics Lab, the largest specialist robotics laboratory in the UK, plus you'll have access to all the combined facilities of both partner universities.

When applying for this programme, please select Robotics and Autonomous Systems on the online application form.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree in an engineering, physics, mathematics or related subject. Other disciplines will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Students who have completed our MSc in Robotics may be considered, on a case-by-case basis, for direct entry into the second year of the FARSCOPE programme. This will be subject to interview, including a qualifying presentation on research.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Course modules

Year 1
Research methods training
Seminars in modern robotics methods
Robotics, mechanics and programming
Robotics context and applications (industry delivered)
Robot intelligence and systems
Specialist robotics topics (chosen from list of options)
Group robot project (eg IMAV contest, robot soccer or Mars rover field test)
Initial research project
Communications training and research presentation
Year 2
PhD research
Industry study workshop
Innovation and entrepreneurship
Complementary skills training
Year 3
PhD research
Industry study workshop
Partner placement (optional: opportunities at partner universities in Europe, Asia, North America or partner companies in the UK and Japan)
Public engagement training and group activity
Year 4
PhD research
Complementary skills training (including thesis preparation)
FARSCOPE conference presentation
You will start working on your initial research project in your second semester, leading to a dissertation completed at the end of your first year. You then progress to your major PhD research project, for which you may choose to continue your initial project or to pursue a new topic.

Visit our programme catalogue for full details of the structure and unit content for the first year of the EPSRC Robotics and Autonomous Systems CDT programme. (

Sponsorship information

The FARSCOPE CDT programme has funds to support up to ten UK/EU students per year including fees, stipend (at standard RCUK rates), research and travel expenses. The programme has no internal funding for non-EU students, but any applications received from self-funded international students will be considered.

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